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Nestle net profit soars 45% despite slipping sales

The world’s leading food industry group Nestle on Thursday posted a soaring net profit for 2014, boosted by the sell-off of its stake in French cosmetics group L’Oreal, even as sales slipped.

Last year, the maker of Nespresso capsules, baby food and many other products, saw its net profit jump 44.6 percent to 14.5 billion Swiss francs ($15.4 billion, 13.4 billion euros), the company said in an earnings statement.

That was well above the expectations of analysts polled by the AWP financial news agency, who had anticipated a net profit of just 10.3 billion Swiss francs.

Not counting income from the sale of its L’Oreal holdings last year and a reevaluation gain on its Galderma medical unit stake, however, Nestle said its net profit rose just 4.4 percent in constant currencies.

The company’s sales slipped 0.6 percent last year to 91.6 billion francs, meanwhile, mainly due to negative impact of exchange rate shifts, which eroded sales figures by 5.5 percent.

The company’s organic growth, considered a key indicator of its performance, expanded 4.5 percent last year, it noted.

That number was based on 2.3 percent real internal growth, with the remaining 2.2 percent attributable to pricing, Nestle said.

“These are strong results, building on the good growth of past years and delivered in a soft trading environment,” company chief Paul Bulcke said in the earnings statement.

Nestle’s board will propose increasing the dividend paid to share holders to 2.20 Swiss francs per share, up from 2.15 last year, the company said.

Looking forward, the Nestle said it expected this year to be similar to 2014, adding that it aimed to see its organic growth swell about five percent.

Following the announcement, the company saw its share price inch up 0.42 percent to 71.40 Swiss francs a piece, as the Swiss stock exchange’s main SMI index grew 0.17 percent.